Security czar warns of hacker terrorists

[FEBRUARY 27, 2002] -- U.S. cyber security czar Richard A. Clarke kicked off the eleventh annual RSA Security Conference last week with a warning that future terrorists may exploit glaring weaknesses in this country's computer systems. "They will look for the seams," Clarke told attendees gathered at the San Jose Convention Center. "They will look to where our infrastructure is fragile."

During his keynote address, Clarke urged companies to make computer security a top priority. He cited a recent Forrester Research report, which found that U.S. businesses spend on average .0025 percent of their revenue on information security. "If you spend more money on coffee than IT security," Clarke warned, "you will be hacked. And moreover, you deserve to be hacked."

Clarke has been issuing his clarion call to the U.S. business community since his appointment as the first White House Special Advisor for Cyber Security last October. Clarke served as the country's first National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism under the Clinton administration. He also served under the Reagan administration.

Clarke said that the Bush administration has proposed to increase federal cyber security funding by sixty-four percent to $4 billion, eight percent of the government's $50 billion IT budget, and he urged U.S. companies to follow that example.

"[IT] runs the same risk that the aviation industry ran," Clarke said. "For years, people in the aviation industry knew that there were security vulnerabilities. They convinced each other and convinced themselves that these vulnerabilities would never be used."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].